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Omicron causes tsunami of COVID cases in Utah

A map of Utah shows every county has greater than 200 cases every 14 days, considered a very high rate.
Utah Department of Health
Due to its high transmissibility, Omicron continues to break records with infection rates across the entire state.

In response to the expected spike in COVID cases over the weekend and last week’s record number of new cases, Intermountain Healthcare physicians provided an update Monday on the current COVID surge.

According to the Utah Department of Health the seven day average of new positive COVID cases is 7,768 per day, with the average positive rate of those tested 31.4%.

About 95-100% of the latest cases in the state are omicron, reflecting the high transmissibility of this variant.

Dr Todd Vento, Infectious Diseases Specialist with Intermountain Healthcare, provided COVID updates at yesterday’s Intermountain Healthcare press briefing.

He discussed that we should be beyond the concern of whether or not we are getting exposed to COVID.

“We're kind of swimming in omicron right now. Just look at the numbers. When did Utah ever expect to see 10,000 cases a day? I mean, that's a lot of omicron that were walking around it so masks will make a difference. Vaccines and boosters will make a huge difference," Vento said. "That's the important part so we can back off the idea of catching the virus or not catching the virus.”

Newly updated CDC self isolation guidelines recently changed from a ten day isolation period to a 5 day for those who have tested positive for COVID. This 5 day recommendation derives from the majority of people being contagious within that time frame. But there is still 10-15% of those individuals who can remain transmissible.

“And so after five days of isolation, you can still spread COVID. Even though the CDC went to a five day isolation period, so I would caution folks to say five days isolation, followed by five days wearing a mask. I think that can confused people because we should be wearing a mask all the time," Vento said.

Dr. Vento says there’s a bottom line: “Boosters and a high high level of antibody response from vaccination is what's going to protect folks from severe disease, and then that will not tax the healthcare system resources.”

There are nearly 600 patients with COVID related illnesses currently in Utah hospitals, where ICU capacity is over 90%.

Colleen Meidt is a Science Reporter at UPR as well as a PhD student at Utah State University. She studies native bees in the Mojave Desert and is particularly interested studying the conservation status of the Mohave Poppy Bee. In her free time, Colleen enjoys photography and rock climbing in the canyons.